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NGA TSIN WAI

The Nga Tsin Wai walled village in Wong Tai Sin district is 650-year-old.

Closed Ng Clan Hall
Nga Tsin Wai village is among the oldest cultural relic in Kowloon and is the only traditional Chinese walled village in Kowloon downtown urban area. The clan hall and the Tin Hau Temple in the village have remained intact. The Ng Clan Hall is an ancestral hall rarely found in the urban area.

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Closed Ng Clan Hall
In year 2005 demolition moved a step closer after the Wong Tai Sin District Council approved the redevelopment project, reversing its decision to preserve the village as a cultural heritage site.
Traditional Chinese doors
Traditional Chinese doors

In 1960's the village still employed watchmen. The watchmen patrolled the six lanes inside the village and also the area around the village. Their duty is to keep watch and to assure local security in the village. A drum was beaten at half-hourly interval. At that time, there was 106 houses in the village. They were occupied by around 300 families.

Village arch
Villagers hope that some memorable establishments, such as the Tin Hau temple, the village affairs office and the arch, will be preserved as promised.
Village arch

During World War II, Nga Tsin Wai village already avoided destruction once as Japanese troops extended the Kai Tak airfield.

A few shops such as this herbal shop are still opened in Nga Tsin Wai walled village.
Nga Tsin Wai herbal shop
Nga Tsin Wai herbal shop
Nga Tsin Wai walled village
The walled village was designed in a grid with homes connected by six narrow alleys. The village has been home to generations of three native families, i.e. the Chans, the Ngs and the Lees.
Nga Tsin Wai walled village

Before the village had a watch tower, a moat, and a drawbridge. The moat was filled up during the Japanese occupation. Two cannons were buried near the entrance.

There are calls for the preservation of the gate house, the embedded stone plaque and the Tin Hau Temple within the village.
Tin Hau Temple
Tin Hau Temple
Nga Tsin Wai walled village
The future of the village is under threat after property developer Cheung Kong Holdings acquired about 80 per cent of the properties about two decades ago.
Nga Tsin Wai walled village

The property develoer Cheung Kong plans to build two 25-storey residential and commercial blocks with about 650 units and a 10-storey office building on the site. Work is expected to be completed in year 2009.

The ancient arch can be traced back to the Song dynasty. A door god is a Chinese decoration placed on each side of an entry to a temple or building, believed to keep evil spirits from entering.
Inside the ancient arch
Inside the ancient arch
Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber
Only 100 people live in the rundown houses. Of the 50 families living in the village, only two tenants are opposed to the redevelopment.
Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber
In year 2006 villagers of Nga Tsin Wai celebrated their 29th Ta Chiu festival amid fears that redevelopment may spell the end of the centuries-old ritual. The village marked its Ta Chiu celebration in honour of Tin Hau with lion and dragon dances and religious rituals. The celebration is held once every 10 years.
Nga Tsin Wai walled village
Nga Tsin Wai walled village

Local villagers were initially uncertain to organize a Ta Chiu festival as all the efforts would have been useless due to one-year preparation work needed and still unknown dates of village dismantling. Finally it was only three months before the ritual day that the organising committee was formed. With such a short notice, the 5 days activities have been compacted into one day with many formalities such as Chinese Opera downscaled or cancelled.

Tin Hau temple
Old lady praying and burning joss stick to please the deities and ancestors.
Tin Hau temple
The Antiquities Advisory Board determined that the village homes didn't possess any heritage value worth saving when it visited the area in years 1994, 1999 and 2000.
Nga Tsin Wai old house
Nga Tsin Wai old house

Villagers have been offered compensation of HKD 4800 a sqft in year 1999, but hoped the authority would consider making a better offer.

Nga Tsin Wai old house
The villagers had been fishermen by profession for centuries.
Nga Tsin Wai old house
The village dates to 1352 according to stone carvings inside the Tin Hau temple.
Nga Tsin Wai walled village
Nga Tsin Wai walled village

Local people ask to preserve this old culture and ways of living as it gives Hong Kong a unique character. Hong Kong cannot become a world city only by having high-rises.

Nga Tsin Wai walled village
Nga Tsin Wai walled village look like a ramshackle village to some but looks like an old cultural gem to other.
Nga Tsin Wai walled village

Some local people complain that Nga Tsin Wai old houses continue to be demolished one by one. People are frustrated regarding the government's failure to preserve the village. Under the last proposed redevelopment scheme only the Gatehouse and the Tin Hau Temple will be preserved.

Most of the villagers are descendants from the same clan. Some are the 28th generation.
Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber
Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber

In year 2007 the Urban Renewal Authority has proposed turning the village into a conservation park, in which four residential towers will be built. Most of the houses would be knocked down and several new constructions would be built to capture the spirit of the original village. Three relics - the Tin Hau temple, a gatehouse and a stone tablet - along with a few houses connected to the village entrance will be preserved.

Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber
With most of the buildings already dismantled by the developer, many government officials believe the village isn't worth protecting.
Nga Tsin Wai outdoor barber

Four towers, of 20 to 28 storeys, shall be built on either side of the entrance, elevated on 15-metre pylons. The purpose of elevating the towers is to maintain a holistic look to the village.



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